Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Sexually transmitted diseases, also known as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), are typically contracted by sexual contact. The organisms (viruses, parasites, or bacteria) that cause an STI are transmitted from person to person via semen, vaginal, or other bodily fluids, including blood.
Sometimes, but more rarely, these infections are transmitted nonsexually, such as from a mother to offspring during pregnancy or childbirth, through a blood transfusion, or shared needles with an infected person. Because STDs do not always cause symptoms, it is possible to contract a sexually transmitted disease from someone who appears perfectly healthy and does not even know they have an infection.
Symptoms of STDs can present in a variety of ways, including:
- Sores or bumps on your genitals, mouth, or rectal area
- Painful or burning urination
- Odd-smelling vaginal discharge
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Lower abdominal pain
- Sore, swollen lymph nodes, particularly in the groin but sometimes elsewhere
- A rash over your trunk, hands, or feet
Signs and symptoms of an STI might appear a few days after exposure or it may take years before you have any noticeable problems depending on the organism that caused the STI. Also, an STI may present no symptoms at all. This is why STIs may go undetected until a complication occurs or a partner is diagnosed.
If you have reason to suspect you have an STI, make an appointment to see your provider immediately. Screening and treatment will be provided as soon as possible.
Here at Catawba Valley Healthcare, we recommend that you make a general appointment to see your provider before becoming sexually active for the first time or before starting to have sex with a new partner to ensure your safety against possible STIs.